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Murat Akar and Demet Kara

2022 “A lead figurine from Toprakhisar Höyük: magico-ritual objects in the Syro-Anatolian Middle Bronze Age,”
Anatolian Studies 72, pp. 1-20.
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     This paper describes a lead figurine (TPH 1279) found at Toprakhisar Höyük and interpreted as a magico-ritual foundation peg, with apotropaic values. The figurine, which shows on top an animal (interpreted as a bull, probably connected to a Storm-god), was found in a disturbed Early Bronze IVB to Middle Bronze I transitional deposit. The object, presenting Syro-Anatolian features, has been considered as a “possible material reflection of new groups in the region, including Hurrians and Amorites” (p. 1). This lead figurine has been seen as a “ritual paraphernalia [...] used in a foundation ritual” (p. 1). This foundation peg and other horsehoe-shaped hearths have been regarded as a possible influence of a Hurrian cultural milieu, since these are two features also attested at Urkesh/Tell Mozan (cf. infra, "Excerpts").


  • pp. 4-5 (andirons): “Of particular interest are the decorated horseshoe-shaped hearths found in the courtyards of Building 2. These have been identified as index markers of cultural change, as they are virtually unknown in the Amuq valley during the Middle Bronze Age, and no such tradition has thus far been noted at Alalakh, nor at other major sites like Tell el Judaidah (fig. 3; Akar, Kara 2020: 95). Yet, remarkably, identical examples have been found at Upper/Middle Euphrates and Upper Tigris sites from the late Early Bronze Age to the Middle Bronze Age, providing a direct link in terms of symbolism encoded in cooking practices (for examples, see Kelly-Buccellati 2004 [...]).”
  • p. 12 (foundation pegs): “It is commonly accepted that in the early second millennium BC, Hurrians, a northern Mesopotamian entity, adopted religious customs and cults from the former Akkadian presence in the Khabur valley and through close encounters with southern Mesopotamian cultures [...]. They then performed their own foundation rituals in relation to temple and palace constructions (Buccellati, Kelly-Buccellati 1997; Buccellati 2013). This is best represented by the possible attributions of the privately acquired lion foundation pegs in the Louvre (AO 19937) and the Metropolitan Museum (48.180) to Tell Mozan, Urkesh (Buccellati, Kelly-Buccellati 2009: 59; Buccellati 2013). The cuneiform signs visible on the plaque that the Metropolitan Museum lion guards under its paws and the accompanying stone tablet for the Louvre peg are inscribed in the Hurrian language, giving the name of the city and its ruler: Tisatal, king of Urkesh (fig. 15; Parrot, Nougayrol 1948; Muscarella 1988; 374–77). Such particular objects are in accordance with Hurrian rituals known from the late Hittite record: they were intended to purify the ground or were used in pit rituals for communicating with the underworld (Collins 2002; Miller 2004; Bachvorava 2016: 86; Kıymet 2018).”)

[M. De Pietri – July 2022]